What to Expect with Sore Throats

What to Expect with Sore Throats
Sore throats are a popular reason for patients being seen at urgent care. Often they’re not serious, but simply uncomfortable. Allergies or germ infections may cause sore throats. They can occur all year, but a majority of patients will come in during the winter cold and flu months seeking relief. Sore throats caused by cold and flu may have symptoms, such as:
  • Headache
  • Ear discomfort
  • Nasal drainage
  • Sinus pressure
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Coughing
Around 90 percent of sore throats are not caused by bacterial infections, meaning there’s no need for antibiotics. In the winter months, sore throats may be caused by viral germs. Patients may endure a sore throat for several days up to a couple of weeks; it simply depends on individual characteristics, severity of the virus and the overall health of the patient’s immune system.

Two infamous sore throat types are strep throat — a bacterial infection— and mononucleosis (mono)--a viral infection. Both have rapid testing solutions available. It’s common practice to perform a “culture” on a normal (negative) rapid strep test to further clarify if the cause is truly bacterial or not. This added evaluation usually takes 1-2 days for results. Antibiotics are normally prescribed for confirmed or highly suspicious bacterial infections.

It’s important to remember that sore throats are commonly not bacterial and won’t require antibiotics. Because of this, health care providers often direct patients to education and recommendations for comfort aides and medications, many of which are readily available without a prescription at local pharmacies.